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Why I Support Drinkaware

8 February 2016  
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Recently there was the launch of a new type of Drinkaware. Most people are familiar with the old Drinkaware from the rushed words at the end of drink ads, the microscopic logo that appears on drink labels, and if you’re in your 20’s you’ll know them as your “friend” – the one who gave you tips on how not to have a massive hangover when you went to festivals, and the like.

  • The old Drinkaware was funded by the drinks companies, was a PROJECT run by a company called MEAS. MEAS engaged in other activities as well, it’s sole focus wasn’t alcohol education.
  • The new Drinkaware is funded by the drinks companies, is a separate company entity and is engaged solely in education and awareness about alcohol.

See the difference? Good.

  • The old Drinkaware tried to be everyone’s friend, and in my opinion, didn’t really do a very good job.
  • The new Drinkaware sets out to increase the age at which the first unsupervised alcoholic drink takes place, and where they do decide to drink, to reduce the misuse of alcohol.

To do this, Drinkaware will target parents of 11-15 year olds, giving them information and resources with which to have the alcohol discussion with their kids. Interestingly, research carried out by Drinkaware during the summer of 2015 with parents found that most parents thought they were well able to have the alcohol discussion with their kids, but turned out to not have the right information at all. I suppose it’s a case of ‘better the devil you know’ – most parents probably feel more comfortable talking about alcohol than drugs, sexual transmitted diseases or other Big Topics that must be addressed. But the fact is, they are hopelessly unprepared.  Drinkaware sets out to support them and to provide up to date information and resources.

I was invited to join the Board of this not-for-profit and I jumped at the chance.

  1. It is important work.  I strongly believe that change needs to happen in relation to alcohol in Ireland.
  2. I respect and admire the clarity of purpose, transparency, and independence of new Drinkaware. Niamh Gallagher is the CEO – you might know her from Women for Election, a Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Awardee, IMAGE Magazine Social Entrepreneur of the Year (2015).  She’s a fantastic woman with a strong vision, and a proven ability to deliver it.
  3. I like the idea of being able to use my skills for good. I’m on the Board for my social media expertise, and it is exciting to be on a Board that is being built from the ground up with digital as part of its DNA.
  4. It’s pretty cool to be on a Board alongside PJ Timmins as Chair, Professor Niamh Brennan, and Barney Whelan. As a place of learning to be a good Board Member, this is definitely the where it’s at!

 

Invisible Acceptance Of Alcohol Abuse In Ireland

There has been a lot of talk in recent times about the invisible discrimination, and how we just accept things the way they are. This was a prominent theme in Anne O’Dea’s InspireFest in June.  But I see the invisible acceptance of alcohol abuse much more. Because I lived and worked away from this country for the first eight years of my adult working life, it grounded me in a way of how things are in other countries.

When I returned to Ireland in 2001, I was shocked by how acceptable it was to go out with your boss after work, drink 6 or 7 pints (on an empty stomach), make a show of yourself, and then be part of a back-slapping ‘the state of you’ culture in the office on Monday morning.  The same people would look down on me and tut because I ordered a single glass of wine to eat with my food at a team lunch out.

There was the recent story in the media about the girl who was threatened and verbally abused because she was walking on Wexford Street around pub closing time. Her description of what she had to put up with was not an isolated tale, but lots of women came out and said this was a regular part of their lives too.  This is of course fuelled by alcohol.

What about the 12 pubs of Christmas?  Thankfully it wasn’t such a big thing this past Christmas.  That’s down to the fact that most bars didn’t want to do it because of the amount of vomit, glass breaking and hassle involved.  It’s a sickening celebration of binge drinking. Going to 12 pubs and drinking a minimum of a pint in each, being forced by the crowd to down shots if you can’t finish your drink, is disgusting in my opinion. And I’ve heard of companies (in the health sector!!) having 12 pubs of Christmas as part of their Christmas celebrations (ie. the company pays!!).

I’m not a kill joy.  Anyone who knows me knows how I love to party!  I just don’t admire the state of our culture in relation to booze right now. I hate the way the Irish are perceived as pissheads overseas.  When Hollywood stars, Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg were in town before Christmas to promote a movie, the main story about their visit was about they ended up drinking with a bunch of dads in Dublin. The quote from Wahlberg:

mark wahlberg dublin visit

 

 

 

 

 

So when I was asked to do my bit, I was very happy to say YES!

You may or may not be seeing great things coming out of Drinkaware in the near future. That’s because we are targeting parents of tweens, and if you’re not one of them, you’re not in our direct line of contact. You are, of course, welcome to visit the site, sign up for newsletters, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube. Write your feedback here. Anything you like.

And you might start also have noticed the invisible acceptance of alcohol abuse that is a part of our society.  And you might want to do your bit too. And that’s great.  Here’s to the launch of the new Drinkaware.  Best of luck to the team and here’s to a concerted effort towards pushing the age of first unaccompanied alcoholic drink up.

 

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